The definition of elder financial abuse is a simple one. It is any case in which a senior citizen’s finances are manipulated or misappropriated for the personal gain of another.
While defining elder financial abuse may be simple, recognizing it, and preventing it, are separate matters. However, elder financial abuse can be detected if you know what to look for. Below are some tips to help elders and their loved ones spot the warning signs of financial abuse:
1. Watch out for Isolation
Sadly, despite a lifetime of cultivating relationships and friendships, a person’s senior years are the ones in which they are most likely to feel the effects of isolation. Sometimes it is because they no longer drive and are stuck at home more often, or perhaps their children and grandchildren no longer feel them relevant or worthy of a visit.
Regardless, isolation is a major contributor to elder financial abuse. While feeling lonely or isolated, seniors have been known to entertain strangers in their lives when they ordinarily would not. These new people may have ulterior motives, including trying to trick the senior into giving them money.
2. When Outsiders Come In
Likewise, seniors often entertain new people in their lives in the form of service providers, that is people who perform work in and around the seniors’ home when the latter is no longer able to do the tasks themselves. Contractors, painters, mechanics, plumbers, and so on may try to subtly bully or intimidate the senior into parting with far more money than is necessary through fear tactics.
3. The Sad Truth re: Loved Ones
When imagining instances of elder financial abuse, the first thing that probably comes to mind is a scenario in which a senior citizen gets swindled out of their money by a cunning stranger through some sort of elaborate, pre-formulated scheme. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth.
Studies show that 90% of the perpetrators of elder financial abuse are known to the elder. What exactly does this mean? While it sounds terrible, it means that your close friends and family members are more likely to trick you out of your money than total strangers.
You don’t have to be paranoid, but it’s always a good idea to use a healthy amount of discernment when it comes to financial affairs. If your gut tells you something is fishy, it very well may be.
Fortunately, with a bit of vigilance and commitment to keeping an eye on our aging loved ones, senior citizens can avoid financial abuse.